Posted By: Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales | Posted On: March 13, 2020
Is Automating Your Laser Cutting System Right for Your Application?
Strategic decisions can make or break a business. Making the right decisions on what equipment to use, and how to equip it is integral to your firm’s success. Here’s what you need to know about automated laser cutting and why you need a CNC cutting machine.
How Laser Cutting Works
Technically, in reference to laser cutting, the laser itself refers to an acronym, Light Amplification Stimulated By Emitted Radiation. The reference goes back to the time when light beams were intensified using RF Waves until they were hot enough to melt through metal. These early CO2 Resonators were complex engines that had many moving pieces and needed to be well maintained and used large amounts of las gasses to assist in the process. Todays Fiber Lasers use a much simpler Direct-Diode source creating intense light directly from the resonators circuitry and delivering that powerful beam through a fiber cable to the focal cutting head.
Previous models of resonator power sources were 4KW-6KW capable and could cut steel at up to 1” thick. Today however, we have fiber laser cutting systems of up to 30KW that are capable of slicing through even 4” thick plate steel and with that increased power comes increased speed quickly processing a sheet of material. Because processing times are so dramatically increased, material handling becomes the next major issue to address on tehse systems: How do we get the material on/off quickly?
Needless to say Laser cutting has come a long way over the years, and automation is taking the lead.
3 Benefits of Automation for Laser Cutting
- Simplicity: Whether you're machine loads from a storage tower or picks material from a pallet your machine is loader much easier then by hand and cuts longer freeing the operator up to offload parts or perform other tasks.
- Safety: Because the machine handles the heavy sheets of steel automatically, your machinery operator is freed from bending, twisting and lifting these sheets allowing for a safer, more comfortable and thus more productive environment.
- Productivity: Because the loading (and optionally offloading) is automated your machine signals the loader when it’s ready for the next job and automatically it's loaded and begins cutting. Downtime is minimized while productivity increases.
Automation of a laser cutting system is the sole upgrade that can make manufacturing firms grow faster than ever. In addition to using a CNC cutting machine, a Load/Unload system can help quicken production. You can invest the money to get more powerful laser cutting systems, however, you won’t get the full benefit unless you also incorporate automation. The benefits of laser cutting are tripled when coupling high-powered lasers and automation together.
Other Advantages in Automated Laser Cutting
ROI - That evil word we justify every machinery purchase with is often a hard number to hit. Whereas a $500K Laser cutting system running one shift a day may take 7-10 years to hit the ROI Mark adding automation can shorten that time to as little as 2-3 years as the machine is now capable of working around the clock, or 3 shifts a day providing a payback much quicker, even when adding 150K in automation.
Is Automated Laser Cutting Worth the Cost?
Automation is key to getting the most benefits of laser cutting as a manufacturing firm and because automated laser cutting comes with so many benefits, the cost is made trivial by comparison. One of the most important things to take into consideration when introducing automated laser cutting is to make the transition as smooth as possible. That means that you’ll have to make an effort to make your workforce feel comfortable with the shift to automation. Job security will, of course, be a concern for some when making the change.
Irrespective of employee concerns, the benefits of automated laser cutting far outweigh any possible drawbacks. In fact, there are no real drawbacks to making the upgrade to automated laser cutting. The initial cost of upgrading to automation will be repaid many times over as your production levels will increase. Your firm will also be significantly more flexible as it will be able to make more for less and at a much higher speed.
The fact of the matter is that when it comes to laser cutting, automation is the future. Business gets more competitive every day and firms that stick to manual methods will fall behind. Do the smart thing and invest in your company’s future today, with automated laser cutting technology.